Longtime Bob Seger saxophone player Alto Reed dead at 72

Alto Reed, the longtime sax player with Bob Seger‘s Silver Bullet Band, died Wednesday, December 30, after a battle with colon cancer. He was 72.

Reed, who was born Thomas Neal Cartmell in Detroit in 1948, started playing with Seger in 1971 and appeared on nearly all of Bob’s albums beginning with 1973’s Back in ’72.

“I loved him like a brother,” Seger says in a statement. “I may have been the leader, but he was our rock star. He was the audience favorite, hands down. He was bold, and worldly. I learned so much from the guy. And he was a great ambassador to the fans. He took time for everybody, any picture, anywhere. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Seger also has penned a long tribute to Reed that he posted on his official Facebook page.

Reed performed and recorded with many other well-known artists, including Foghat, Grand Funk Railroad, Little Feat, Dave Mason, Spencer Davis, The Blues Brothers, The Ventures, George Thorogood and Robin Gibb.

In addition, Reed released a solo album titled Cool Breeze in 1997, and was the co-leader of the Reed & Dickinson Band with singer-songwriter Steve Dickinson, which released an album titled Tonight We Ride in 2007.

He’s survived by two daughters, Chelsea Reed Radler and Victoria Reed, who say in a statement, “Our hearts are deeply broken by this enormous loss, but also filled with gratitude as we reflect on his legacy and how incredibly lucky we’ve been to get to call such a special guy dad.”

Alto also is survived by a grandson, Harry Radler; a longtime partner, Christiana Van Ryn; and a stepdaughter, Sophia Van Ryn.

By Matt Friedlander
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